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In the wake of media reports and complaints from women's groups, State Treasurer Joseph D. Malone '78 has decided to sever his ties with the troubled Pi Eta Speakers Club, an aide to Malone said yesterday.
"At this time, due to his responsibilities in the treasurer's office and due to the negative connotation of being a member of Pi Eta, [Malone] should no longer be associated with the club," Deputy Treasurer Christopher J. Doherty '78 said.
"It doesn't make sense for a public official [to be linked with the club]," he said.
In recent years, a number of women have complained of sexual abuses at the club. Earlier this month, the Pi Eta club settled a lawsuit brought by a New Jersey woman who claimed that she was raped there during a 1988 party.
"Everybody knows the place is mired in controversy," Doherty said.
Malone's position on the Pi Eta Speakers Associates, the 20-member graduate body which oversees the all-male social club, was reported by The Crimson last week.
Doherty said yesterday that neither he nor Malone were clear about Malone's official relationship with the club, but that he would end any connection that exists.
"I definitely plan on just taking whatever steps are necessary to recuse him," Doherty said.
Reached at his home last night, Stephen P. Endlar '56, president of the Pi Eta Speakers Associates, declined to comment on Malone's resignation.
In interviews yesterday, spokespersons for women's groups said they approved of Malone's decision, but questioned its motivation.
"We can all recognize that as a politically smart move and accept it for that," said Ellen J. Zucker, president of the Boston chapter of the National Organization for Women. "It is unfortunate, however, that it was not by his own moral instincts," she added.
"He clearly knew about what was going on at this club," Zucker said. "One would hope that he would keep his personal house in order without being told to do so."
Kathryn I. Frucher '93, co-president of the Radcliffe Union of Students, called Malone's decision "very responsible."
"Someone in his position could really be hurt politically by his affiliation with an organization which shows such blatant disrespect for women," she said.
More Resignations Sought
Frucher also called for other members of the club's graduate board to step down. "Others who are on that list should follow suit," she said.
Of those who remain on the alumni board, Daniel C. Crane '72, president-elect of the Massachusetts Bar Association, has drawn the most criticism. Several members of the legal community said Crane's continued association with the club undermines efforts to improve the treatment of women in the courts.
Contacted at his Cambridge office yesterday afternoon, Crane refused to discuss his relationship to the Pi Eta Club with The Crimson.
Frucher said Crane's refusal to explain his reasons for being on the club's board confirmed that "it's an embarrassing affiliation."
"The club represents something that tears up the social fabric of what the bar is supposed to maintain," she said.
Zucker said Crane's failure to distance himself from the Pi Eta Club "shows a callousness that we certainly would not want to have in the president of the bar association."
"I would hope that other more conscientious members of the bar would do something about it," Zucker said.
Doherty said yesterday that alumni were a positive influence on undergraduates.
Graduates have tried to "steer the club in the right direction," Doherty said. He said that Malone had briefly acted as a liaison between current members of the Pi Eta and alumni, but stopped to become more involved in state politics.
Doherty said Malone spoke at the club in 1988 during his campaign against U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 (D-Mass.), who was also a member of the Pi while an undergraduate. After that appearance, club officials began to use Malone's name in association with the club, Doherty explained.
"[Malone] probably said, 'Oh, sure, no big deal,'" Doherty said.
Doherty, who was Malone's roommate at the College and a member of the club himself, said he was aware of the current flap over the decision of undergraduates at Yale's Skull and Bones society to admit women members and thought the Pi should follow the New Haven club's lead.
"My view is that they ought to go co-ed. The pressure is only going to increase over time," Doherty said.
But Doherty said the decision should not be forced on the current members by the graduates. "It's a club for the members, not the alumni," he said.
Doherty said he did not know Malone's views on the issue and that Malone was not available for comment yesterday.
Other alumni officials have declined to discuss any aspect of the club's operations with The Crimson.
The club has been occasionally closed by its alumni. Early last week, the Pi was shut down briefly after a complaint from a tenant who lives above the clubhouse. However, by Saturday, the regular weekend parties at the 45 Mt. Auburn St. clubhouse had started up again.
Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III has said that he would prefer that the club remain closed
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